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Self-help and daily living for vasculitis

If you do need treatment then it's very important that you follow your doctor's instructions carefully. It's important to learn and understand as much as you can about your illness and the treatment options; you can discuss alternative treatment options with your medical team.  

Vasculitis varies from one person to the next and from one type of vasculitis to another. It's important to speak to your doctor or other healthcare professional about any new symptoms you may have. 

Exercise

Vasculitis can cause tiredness, and it's important to rest when you need to. However, you should also try to keep muscles and joints healthy by exercising. Start gently and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. Include some weight-bearing exercise (anything that involves walking or running). Swimming is also recommended. Ask your doctor for advice on how much exercise you should expect to be able to do.

Read more about exercise and arthritis.

Diet and nutrition

You won't usually need to keep to any special diet.

A healthy, low-fat, nutritious and balanced diet is important for everyone, but if you're on steroids it's particularly important because these can increase your appetite and cause weight gain. Try not to over eat, and cut down on fatty and sugary foods and others which are particularly high in calories. Instead, eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and starchy foods like potatoes and wholemeal bread, pasta and rice.

Drinking plenty of water is helpful. It's healthy for everyone not to drink more than the recommended units of alcohol a week; 14 a week for both men and women. Having at least two alcohol-free days is advisable, but not if that means you then save up all your units to drink in one go.

If you're taking steroids then you're more at risk of osteoporosis, but having plenty of calcium in your diet is important to help prevent this from developing. Foods that are good sources of calcium include tinned sardines (with bones), skimmed milk, yoghurt and certain vegetables such as broccoli.

Read more about diet and arthritis.

Stop smoking

Smoking makes the blood vessels become narrower inside and can therefore make vasculitis symptoms worse. Smoking can also worsen lung inflammation. It's therefore very important to try to stop smoking. This will also improve any symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon. If you want to stop smoking see your doctor who will be able to give you advice about quitting.

Keep warm

If your fingers or toes turn blue in response to the cold, this may be due to Raynaud's phenomenon. Wearing warm clothes, including warm socks and gloves, should improve blood circulation to your hands and feet by helping to keep the blood vessels open.

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